2018

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What does the Supreme Court's Janus ruling mean for unions? It would be like the government no longer enforcing taxes

June 28, 2018

By Sabri Ben-Achour and Daniel Shin
Marketplace

 

Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision to rule in favor of Mark Janus in the Janus v. AFSCME case effectively changed the entire way public unions raise funds for their collective bargaining services. The ruling now bars unions from collecting fees from non-union members with the court citing this now defunct fee requirement as a violation of free speech.

The conclusion of the Janus v. AFSCME case brings a major disruptive change to how public sector unions would potentially operate, so what will these unions do next?

Sabri Ben-Achour spoke with Benjamin Sachs, professor of labor and industry at Harvard Law School for some insight.... Read more about What does the Supreme Court's Janus ruling mean for unions? It would be like the government no longer enforcing taxes

2018 Jun 13

UNRIGGING THE MARKET: Convening to Restore Competitive Labor Markets

8:30am to 4:30pm

Location: 

Harvard Law School

A diverse group of stakeholders including economists, law professors, private and public practitioners, advocates, and policymakers convened to explore how anticompetitive forces are harming American labor markets and workers. Participants discussed opportunities for coordinated research, enforcement, and policymaking to enhance labor market competition and protect workers. Justice Catalyst served as a co-host and partner for the convening. The convening agenda can be found...

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Released new data on labor rights indicators for the year 2016

June 15, 2018

 

The Labour Rights Indicators are based on coding the findings of selected nine sources and compiling this information in a readily accessible and concise manner. It is designed to be used both by practitioners and researchers. It builds on five basic elements: the premises of definitional validity, reproducibility and transparency; the 108 violation type used to code violations in law and practice; the textual sources selected for coding; the general and source-specific coding rules; and the rules to convert the coded information into normalized indicators. The country...

Read more about Released new data on labor rights indicators for the year 2016
Bloomberg BNA

Tesla Severance Offer Draws the Line on Worker-Safety Concerns

June 18, 2018

Josh Eidelson, Dana Hull
Bloomberg

Language in a confidential severance agreement Tesla Inc. is using as part of the biggest job cut in its history is likely to deter dismissed employees from going public with worker safety concerns, according to employment-law experts.

“The implication is, if you went to OSHA and you said, ‘Here’s something new I want to tell you about a safety concern at Tesla,’ and then OSHA asks the company to respond to that allegation, the company is going to say, ‘That employee told us that they raised everything,’” said Sharon Block, the executive director of Harvard University’s Labor and Worklife Program.

David Kucera and Dora Sari. Forthcoming. “ “New Labour Rights Indicators: Method and Trends for 2000-2015”.” International Labour Review. DataAbstract
The Labour Rights Indicators are based on coding the findings of selected nine sources and compiling this information in a readily accessible and concise manner. It is designed to be used both by practitioners and researchers. It builds on five basic elements: the premises of definitional validity, reproducibility and transparency; the 108 violation type used to code violations in law and practice; the textual sources selected for coding; the general and source-specific coding rules; and the rules to convert the coded information into normalized indicators. The country profiles provide detailed and verifiable information over time that can be easily traced back to the original textual source.
Free Speech Rights: Public Employees v. Football Players
Sharon Block and Maddy Joseph. 5/30/2018. “Free Speech Rights: Public Employees v. Football Players.” OnLabor.org. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The NFL players in a very real and direct way are being forced to support publicly the political views of their employers at the behest of the government. The rule forces players to abandon expression of their own strongly held beliefs about racism, police violence, solidarity among NFL players, and the meaning of patriotism. Moreover, by making them stand during the anthem, the rule is meant to force the players to adopt, as Ben put it, “a particular vision of patriotism.” 

The Supreme Court has warned against the danger of government-imposed patriotic orthodoxy. In finding unconstitutional a law that required school children to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, Justice Jackson wrote for the majority in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” 

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Series One: Many Roads to Quality Work • Issue Two: Amplifying Workers’ Voices in an Evolving Economy - Invested

May 23, 2018

Representation
Sharon Block is invterviewed by Suzanne Cummings
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Understanding the vital importance of strength in numbers to rights and representation, labor unions have served as the central outlet for worker voice in the United States since the New Deal Era. For generations, unions sought to protect and advance workers' right to a safe and fair work environment. While some union organizations remain strong and active today, overall union membership has dropped in the U.S. over the past few decades even as recent surveys show interest growing among nonunion workers in joining unions. Our opening section in this issue on worker voice digs into the reasons for and results of these changing dynamics, and explores how unions are evolving and building new connections within a radically different economy today.

"Union density in this country is now lower than it was before workers had a protected right to join unions. That says to me that there’s something pretty fundamental not working in our law." Sharon Block... Read more about Series One: Many Roads to Quality Work • Issue Two: Amplifying Workers’ Voices in an Evolving Economy - Invested

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Knight: Workers’ ‘day in court’ axed in Court’s arbitration ruling

June 9, 2018

By Bill Knight / Opinion columnist
Pekin Daily Times

 

A U.S. Supreme Court majority on May 21 unleashed employers to run roughshod over labor law, ruling 5-4 that employers can prohibit their workers from banding together in disputes over pay and other workplace disputes. The Court’s five-justice conservative bloc said employers may require employees, as a condition of employment, to give up any joint legal remedy despite of the guarantee of New Deal laws stating that workers have a right to unionize or “engage in other concerted activities for the purposes...

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A Response to “Rethinking Wage Theft Criminalization”

April 20, 2018

by TERRI GERSTEIN AND DAVID SELIGMAN
OnLabor Blog

 

In his recent post, “Rethinking Wage Theft Criminalization,” Ben Levin argues that “the impulse to use criminal law for ‘progressive’ ends”—like combatting wage theft—“is dangerous; it serves to bolster the carceral state and all of its deep structural flaws.”

In his recent post, “Rethinking Wage Theft Criminalization,” Ben Levin argues that “the impulse to use criminal law for ‘progressive’ ends”—like combatting wage theft—“is dangerous; it serves to bolster the carceral state and all of its deep structural flaws.” We write from the perspectives of lawyers who have had extensive experience protecting workers’ rights, one as a former government enforcer and the other as an attorney at an advocacy organization. While we of course appreciate the deep structural flaws of […]
We write from the perspectives of lawyers who have had extensive experience protecting workers’ rights, one as a former government enforcer and the other as an attorney at an advocacy organization. While we of course appreciate the deep structural flaws of our criminal justice system, we’ve seen how important a tool the criminal law can be in protecting workers from wage theft, and we don’t think that bringing the criminal law to bear on predatory employers who take advantage of vulnerable workers exacerbates the injustices of our criminal justice system. If anything, doing so expresses to the most vulnerable members of society that the criminal law can work for them, not just against them. Progressive policymakers and enforcers would be misguided to eschew the tools of criminal law in combating the scourge of wage theft.

The most important reason to employ criminal law tools in certain wage theft cases is that the civil law, while critically important, also has its limits in deterring illegal conduct, responding promptly to abuses, and in punishing chronic wrongdoers.... Read more about A Response to “Rethinking Wage Theft Criminalization”

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